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Council of Elrond • View topic - Volume 3 Newsletter: Contributions

Volume 3 Newsletter: Contributions

Moderator: Newsletter

Volume 3 Newsletter: Contributions

Postby zarathustra » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:23 am

Gollum’s Grotto: Overdetermination

A Definition

In this article, I will discuss one way to take a good deck with some decent combos and raise it to the level of a great deck with killer combos. The method is what I shall call overdetermination. A card in a deck is overdetermined in that deck if it can be used (either by itself or in combination with multiple other cards in the deck) to do more than one thing. One card is more overdetermined in its deck than another if it can be used (by itself or in combos) in more ways than its counterpart. This is a very sparse way of characterizing what I mean, so I’ll switch to examples.

Hero Example

A card whose overdeterminations are obvious and frequently exploited is Gates of Morning. You might play Gates of Morning simply to counter your opponent’s Snowstorm or Foul Fumes or whatever other nasty environment hazards he has in store. Such a use of Gates of Morning is not overdetermined. You might, however, decide to throw three copies of Many Turns and Doublings into your deck as well. Now both Gates of Morning and Many Turns and Doublings will be singly overdetermined. You can use Gates of Morning in two ways: (G1) to counter your opponent’s environment hazards and (G2) in combination with Many Turns and Doublings to reduce your hazard limit. Similarly, you can use Many Turns and Doublings in two ways: (M1) to cancel an attack and (M2) in combination with Gates of Morning to reduce your hazard limit. Furthermore, you might add a couple copies of The Evenstar to your deck. Now Gates of Morning will be doubly overdetermined, and both Many Turns and Doublings and The Evenstar will be singly overdetermined. (G1) and (G2) come up again, but there is a further use for your Gates of Morning: (G3) in combination with The Evenstar to change a region type (and fizzle a creature, for instance) and increase the prowess of all elves. The Evenstar has two uses: (E1) to increase the prowess of an elf and (E2) in combination with Gates of Morning to change a region type and increase the prowess of all elves.

As I said, you can simply go wild with Gates of Morning. Here, for example, is a hero deck I’ve been toying around with for a few months:
Elladan / Cram
Elrohir / Cram
Gildor Inglorian
Galdor
Haldir

3 Pallando
Cirdan
Annalena

3 Gates of Morning
3 Many Turns and Doublings
3 Dark Quarrels
3 The Cock Crows
3 The Evenstar
3 Risky Blow
3 Quiet Lands
3 Await the Advent of Allies
Bridge
Tom Bombadil
Orcrist
Wormsbane
The Mithril Coat
Elves of Lindon
The basic scheme is to send the brutes (separately – yes, alone!) to fetch the greater items at Carn Dum, Mount Gundabad, and Moria, Galdor to summon the faction, and Haldir to fetch Tom. There’s a Bridge so that you can draw a few extra cards, and perhaps exhaust by turn three. In this deck Gates of Morning is sextuply overdetermined, and each of the other environment cards is doubly overdetermined. It’s possible in this deck to get 10 character points, 3 ally points, 2 faction points, and 12 item points for a total of 27 without even accessing your sideboard once. In all likelihood, you’ll kill a creature or three, so breaking 30 MP with alacrity is a facile task.

Minion Example

Here’s another example, on the minion side of the fence. Let’s say you want to play a dragon faction deck. So you throw in Smaug of course, and then probably Scatha, and Agburanar. You put a couple greater items in the deck, a regiment, and a bunch of cancellers. Great! Instead, however, you could put Agburanar in your sideboard and switch in the Ice-Orcs, who are a bit more versatile, as well as easier to influence. Now, when your Ringwraith comes into play, have him discard five resources from your sideboard, one of which will be Agburanar (you can figure out what the other four should be). In your hazard portion, pack three copies of Parsimony of Seclusion. During your opponent’s turn, you can play Parsimony to fetch your dragon faction to your hand, increasing his hazard limit while simultaneously setting up your resource play for the next turn. Agburanar Roused is now playing a dual role in your deck: (A1) to be a big nasty dragon faction and (A2) in combination with Parsimony of Seclusion to increase your opponent’s hazard limit. But that’s only the beginning. Now you should think to yourself, “Well, I can of course use Parsimony of Seclusion to fetch Daelomin at Home, which would be useful.” Good start. You can also use it to grab Agburanar himself, or even Smaug or Itangast, and then play the creature with (say) Dragon’s Desolation. Now Parsimony is playing a quadruply overdetermined role in your deck: (P1) in combination with a manifestation of Agburanar to increase your opponent’s hazard limit, (P2) in combination with any dragon faction to set up your resources for the next turn, (P3) in combination with any dragon creature to set up a doozy of an attack, and (P4) to return Daelomin at Home to your hand.

Why Overdetermination?

“Why are you telling us to play combos, Mark? We already know that combos are very important.”

I am telling you to play combos, but I’m not just telling you to play any old combos. Rather, I’m telling you which combos to play: overdetermined ones.

“I don’t know, Mark. I feel like the really fast and effective decks are usually the ones that don’t have any (or at any rate, many) combos. Combos make for hand jam, and that can be the death of a deck.”

Combos do make for hand jam, it’s true. However, overdetermined cards reduce the likelihood of hand jam because they can be used in so many ways. The reason you get a hand jam is that you’re waiting to draw a certain card, which once drawn will allow you to play two or more cards at once. But if you are not waiting to draw just one card, but any of a large number of cards (as in the elf deck listed above), the likelihood of hand jam decreases dramatically.

“I’m still not convinced. Show me some strong decks that actually use this overdetermination principle.”

OK.
Gates of Morning Lucky Search Deck.
Hobbits in Dragon Country (Halfling Strength overdetermined)
Red Hills (Hold Rebuilt overdetermined)
Elf-Lords Squatting (Elf-Song overdetermined)
The Mouth Influencing Factions (Bane overdetermined)
Elven CVCC
Hobbits with ’Gorn on the High Seas

[There's a bunch of links to go with this]
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Postby zarathustra » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:08 am

The Fellowship: Prize Support

Hello again, MECCG-ers. This time around, I'd like to enumerate one of the many projects the newly revitalized CoE is engaged in: Prize Support.

Of course, the primary reason to play our great game is the simple joy of entering Tolkien's Middle Earth. But there are other reasons. One, for instance, is to tell a story. Another is to humiliate your friend (I mean, opponent... ;)). But yet another is to win some nifty prizes. I myself can attest to this, having racked up two gold One Rings over the course of my MECCG career....

This article, however, is all about you, and in particular, your tournament organizers. As Wolfgang Penetsdorfer pointed out in his article that appeared in volume 2 of the newsletter, there exists a diverse range of MECCG-related items floating around in the community. The CoE is now willing and prepared to offer some such items as prize support to tournament organizers. In particular, for national championships, we now have installed two huge maps of Tolkien's world in Europe, and two more in the USA. These will be shipped from tournament to tournament by the respective organizers of each. At last sighting the European ones were in Spain, but they will be sure to make it to LURE, and from there the sky is the limit.

We also have a number of other items to offer. The attendees of North American championships know all about the cool new buttons featuring card art. These are now available to any tournament organizer who expects to have at least 10 participants in his event. The Swedes, the Finns, and Spanish, and the Austrians have already received their first installment of buttons, and more are waiting as needed. From Finland, we also have stickers with the burning eye of Sauron on them. From Germany, there are the special promos.

All these and more can be yours. But, there are three catches. The first is that you have to ask at least one month before the tournament, to allow time for shipping. That's right, just ask. The second is that you need to be in a country with a CoE-recognized national council. Check out our website -- www.councilofelrond.org -- for exact info. And the third criterion is that you need to collect 1 dollar or euro (depending on where you are) from each player at the tourney and send that, via paypal, to Chris Cable (chscable@feinus.com), the newly elected treasurer of the CoE. Chris will hold any funds received and dispense them as the CoE sees fit for the funding of prize support for big tournaments. So really, the tiny fee is just helping to fund further prize support for yourselves and other players in the future.

If you have any questions about this program, please, by all means, contact us. I can always be reached at mark.alfano@gmail.com, and the contact information for all members of the CoE is available on our website.

[Note: Do not publish in current form. I am going to put in a plug for the new Rules Docs.]
Last edited by zarathustra on Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby zarathustra » Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:29 pm

Card of the Month: Bitter Cold

In this article, I will highlight the sorcery card: Bitter Cold. When played, it gives -1 prowess and -1 body to all attacks against the sorcerer's company for the rest of the turn. He then makes a corruption check modified by -4. That's a high price to pay for a seemingly small adjustment. Why is the cc so nasty? Well, in general, reducing body is difficult in the world of MECCG. Prowess modifications are a dime a dozen, but body modifications are more meaningful (think of Black Arrow, Sacrifice of Form, Morgul Blade, etc.). Bitter Cold lasts till the end of the turn, so if you know you're going on a killing spree, it would be nice to have around.

But when can you know you're going on a killing spree? CVCC cries out, but Bitter Cold will have no effect if you are the attacker. What, then?

This was the question I set myself, when I came up with the following solution: The Great Hunt. Outside of scenarios, there's no better way to be sure you face a bunch of creatures. The next question is: how should you use Bitter Cold? Two answers spring to mind: (1) Hador and (2) Fallen Alatar himself (with Spells Born of Discord).

If I were to make a deck based on (1), I would gather up a bunch of Dunedain like Beretar and Faramir, and then either get (a) some Men or (b) some Elves. If I went with (1b), I'd use Sun to boost the ladies as they ripped through the Nazgul. If, instead, I went with (1b), I would use Star of High Hope to make the elves and dunedain beefcakes. Throw in a couple copies of Bitter Cold (one copy of Never Refuse should help here), and you'll have yourself a grand old time.

If, on the other hand, I were to make a deck based on (2), I'd pump the deck up with all kinds of spells. For help, Bad Company is in order, with Ulkaur, Ugluk, and a couple orcs. Since men (and women) can join up with such a company, Eowyn (or perhaps Peath) with Glamdring is a must. Since there's orcs afoot, throw in a couple copies of Swarm of Bats. If you can manage to play both copies of Bitter Cold and a Swarm of Bats, your Great Hunt will be aided by a permanent Old Thrush: -3/-3 to all attacks! Eowyn with Glamdring is 11 prowess against Nazgul, so she'd be 11 vs. 12 against most of them, and they would be reduced to 2 body! If you have a way to keep her untapped, either by supporting her as she fights or playing a Risky Blow, you can kill multiple dark riders in your org phase! (By the way, Wizard's River-Horses is a must in this kind of deck -- to put all those lovely nazgul in the discard pile right before you hunt them....)

So, as often happens, Bitter Cold is not particularly useful in any straightforward sense, but if you build your deck to its strengths (i.e., decreasing body), it can be very powerful.
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Postby zarathustra » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:51 pm

Quiz (more of a challenge this time):

Come up with a deck prominently featuring card X (we must decide this first -- it should be a weird or underused one). The deck list should include everything: pool, characters in deck, resources, hazards, and sb. It can be vs, hero or vs. minion.

The best deck (by our judgment) wins.



What do you think?
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Postby Manuel » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:43 pm

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Postby zarathustra » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:51 pm

Last edited by zarathustra on Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby thorondor » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:27 pm

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Postby Frodo » Sun Mar 18, 2007 1:48 pm

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Postby miguel » Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:09 pm

I'll write a Thoughts on the Playing Field article about using innovative decks in tournament play.
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Postby Frodo » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:51 pm

Let's have some articles, guys!

Send me your stuff to joebisz@verizon.net (as a word attachment if possible) by this Friday night, Eastern Standard, April 6th. If you REALLY REALLY need the time, you can send it Saturday.

But that's it!!

--joe bisz
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Postby miguel » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:13 pm

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